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Implementing the use of digital in flooring spaces

Louise Walters talks about the digital world and how the flooring industry should seek to
include digital elements in their businesses.

Q: Is website design/development, content, ergonomics essential for the flooring industry?
A: An essential part of any marketing, a company’s website is the shop window on your business and critical to giving a flavour of who you are and what you do. Style and content will vary according to whether it’s B2B or B2C but it needs to be visually appealing and say who you are, what you do, where you do it and what makes you different.

An early digital tool, most companies are now well-versed in what they need and want from a website and understand that keeping them up-to-date and harnessing the latest technological tools is essential. For many people, visualising floorcoverings in-situ can be a difficult concept, so showcasing products through good lifestyle photography is important.

For us, it’s also critically important to detail the different types of flooring available, the features, benefits, and technical specifications so the various requirements of the end-user can be met.

Q: Regarding social media in the flooring industry, what should contractors be doing themselves and who should they be following? What should manufacturers and distributors be doing?
A: Social media is an essential tool for reaching customers and with so many platforms to choose from, businesses need to first establish the ones most appropriate for them and then tailor their language according to the chosen audience. LinkedIn is a firm favourite for B2B messaging and enables a professional tone focusing on business.

Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are beneficial as they enable a more relaxed and informal kind of communication with the ability to showcase many products photography and fun internal information which can be just as interesting to customers as the serious stuff. Making time for social media should be high on the list of priorities for companies in the flooring industry as it’s now a vital avenue to market, whether talking around the subject of flooring or promoting products and services.

Q: What’s the best use of email marketing?
A: Emailers can be beneficial if carefully timed and with appealing content. Over-use can ultimately switch off the recipient, so to maximise their effectiveness, the use of email communication needs to be part of a carefully curated and targeted marketing plan. It’s also important to target your audience effectively, so keeping customer/supplier, potential new business databases up to date is critical to the effectiveness of any campaign.

Q: Regarding video content, should contractors be creating video case studies and the same for manufacturers?
A: Videos are a useful sales tool for contractors to demonstrate their work. They can help to provide potential clients with reassurance of a company’s experience and track record while adding a different type of content into the mix. Reels have become an especially popular way of communicating a message, particularly on Instagram. These allow users, creators, and business accounts to share quick, often just 30 second clips, in addition to posts, longer videos and stories. Videos posted through reels can be made easily and quickly and usually for little, if any, cost. It’s a comms tool which our show home design team regularly uses to great effect. Here are some example links to Instagram reels which they’ve put out to highlight their work:

Q: How important are images and photography to promote companies and their services/products?
A: First class photography is vital and remains a key component of any marketing strategy for companies in the business of selling products, particularly across consumer facing platforms. From aspirational lifestyle images to ‘drop-in’ cut-out shots, to detailed technical images, money spent on product photography will always provide a good ROI. A service is harder to capture through imagery and it’s important to have a clear and precise idea of who the target market is and what they look like, and how you wish to portray your own company and what you look like, before embarking on a shoot. A service is best described with words: images support the story and those featuring people help to ‘humanise’ what you do.

Q: What is virtual showroom software?
A: As a result of the pandemic, this is an aspect of show-home marketing that’s become more prevalent. During the restrictions it offered potential customers the chance to view company showrooms in a realistic, 3D way without having to visit the site itself. While nothing can compete with viewing a show-home for real, virtual reality walkthroughs are now an option that we offer. Although house-buyers are free to visit show-homes, virtual tours can be a useful tool for people who’re ‘first screening’ the developments they wish to visit, and among potential buyers who may live some distance away and can’t do the travelling involved in a site visit, including overseas investors.

Q: Is room visualiser software beneficial to the flooring industry?
A: This is still an advanced and expensive technology which could be a useful selling tool once the technology becomes more accessible. As stated earlier, many people find it difficult to visualise flooring samples on a bigger scale in their own environment. Lifestyle photography has a major role to play in demonstrating the full effect of flooring in-situ, but room visualiser software takes this to the next level and shows people how their choice of flooring could look in their surroundings.

Q: Is software including estimating tools and project management a must for the industry?
A: Yes. Our planning team uses specialist software, MasterPiece, which involves tracing around the PDF/CAD floor plans on screen. This enhances accuracy, saves time and reduces waste, allowing us to plan in the most cost-effective way.

Our installations team use an online fitting diary. This is an application we use to manage and plan our installations, fitter communication, and payments.

Our customer service teams use a customer service module called Athena. This is an application we use to record and manage any customer service issues that’re raised quickly and effectively, it allows us to book service visits and receive reports back from our inspectors.

Q: Are there any other digital elements that need to be integrated into the flooring industry?
A: As the world becomes increasingly ‘audio/visual’ people relish the chance to find out more from podcasts, YouTube videos and short reels on Facebook and Instagram. Anything that makes information quick and easy to digest in an age when time is of the essence and people just need to ‘cut to the quick’ to find out what they need to know. Augmented and virtual reality can really help consumers visualise how an item might look in their own home. Apps are hugely popular, but only where they serve a genuinely useful function, a poor and ‘disappointing’ app can do more harm than no app at all.

QR codes are also becoming widely used as a marketing tool, offering a quick and convenient way to guide customers to the landing page or specific area of your website, by scanning a code. It’s a tool which we use to quickly direct people, via their mobile phone, to a specific place for further information. It’s all about being instant and fast, especially in the world of marketing.
01246 599690
Louise Walters is commercial director for Designer Contracts

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